Ten Prophecies re the Church in 2017

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Last weeks Ten ‘Prophecies’ for Society/Culture in 2017 have already had a partial fulfilment.  Israel, Trump and the SNP ruling out a second Indy Ref in 2017.  But how will the Church of Jesus Christ fare in this coming year?  Only the Lord knows.  However I like to think ahead and watch trends. So here goes

 1) The C of S and C of E  in the UK will continue to decline – and evangelicals within them will continue to find it difficult to accept what is going on.  Likewise for the mainstream Protestant denominations in the US.   As they fall apart the number of new denominations and churches will continue to increase but whether they will make up for the decline is doubtful.  The Scottish Church census will be out in the first part of the year and I have no doubt that the figures will be bad.

One of the reasons why is because of the turning away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ which has taken place in so many churches.  It’s not often that the extent of apostasy in the church surprises me – I thought I had seen it all.  But this week I came across this:

Qu’ran Recitation in St Mary’s

The fact that an Anglican cathedral in Glasgow has a recitation of the Qu’ran is astonishing enough in itself, but what is even more astounding is that the passage recited specifically states that Jesus is not the Son of God.   The cathedral removed the link from their website but if you click the link about you can get it.

 2) Post-modern evangelicals will continue to undermine the church and the gospel. Their undermining of Scripture and caving into the culture, especially on the re-making of humanity will continue. When someone says ‘God did not say’ it is at least clear and direct.  What the post-modern evangelicals do is much more subtle….they ask ‘did God really say?’.  They make open questions of issues which Scripture clearly speaks about, because they want to keep on board the hard-working evangelicals who are the life blood of any church, but they also want to have a foot in the progressive camp and so they play the ‘humble, inquiring’ card, when in reality they are undermining.   I have seen this is in so many ways.  I know of evangelical churches who have already caved into the culture and others who just keep quiet and declare ‘we don’t have a stated policy’.   Such faint hearted compromise will blight and undermine the church.

3) An American charismatic church will become the next big thing/renewal/programme.   The ‘globalisation’ and ‘McDonaldisation’ of the church, combined with the internet, poor theology, poor ecclesiology and the desperation to get some kind of quick fix make us very susceptible to the latest fad.  Will we never learn?

 4)  Creflo Dollar won’t return to Scotland.  His visit here last year was a failure.  We may be a small country with a small percentage of Christians but I was glad that we did not give in to his showmanship. Why Creflo Dollar is not Welcome in Scotland   Creflo Dollar and Scotland – The Reaction   Creflo Dollar and the Corporate Charismatics

5) There will be greater unity amongst bible believing Christians.  Yes, there will still be the personality clashes, the sinful empire building, the infighting and rivalry, but because of the needs of the hour, love for the Lord, faith in his Word and a genuine desire to reach our society, there will be greater unity.    There has to be greater unity.  He must increase, we must decrease.

 6) The number of Christians being salt and light in the public square will increase. Christians have a strong motivation to be involved in the public square – not as those who want political power because we know that the Gospel does not advance with political power – but rather as those who obey the Lord’s injunction to be salt and light.   I know of more Christians involved in politics, media, education and healthcare, than I have ever done before.  Much of the work and witness is done under the radar but it is being done.  The Church must encourage its people to continue and not give up.  Humble service should be our aim.

 7) The Church will commemorate the Reformation. It’s the 500th anniversary of the date commonly marked as the beginning of the Reformation.  Some will regard it as a mistake which needs to be corrected.  Others will see it as no longer necessary.  But I hope that Reformation theology and practice will be rediscovered by the Church.  I don’t doubt the Christianity of many of my Catholic brothers and sisters, and I stand with them on many issues, not least social ones, but I am not prepared to give up on sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratis , solus Christus, soli Deo gloria  (Scripture alone, Faith alone, Grace alone, Christ alone, to the glory of God alone).  Lets make sure that the Reformation remembrance is a party as we recover and rejoice in a renewed church, rather than a memorial service as we lament what has gone.

 8) The Evangelical Church in the US will continue to be split over Donald Trump – The term evangelical in the US is very broad…but still covers a substantial percentage of the population and is of great importance to the rest of the global church.  But as this post from Michael Horton in the Washington Post indicates, there is an enormous danger in evangelicals allying themselves with any political party or any one individual.  Our hope is in Christ, not in Trump or anyone else.

The Church in the US needs to recover its theology, not seek political power.   When you realise that books like Jesus Calling, the Shack, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and adult colouring books were amongst the bestselling ‘Christian’ books in the US in 2016, you realise the trouble we are in. Bestselling Christian Books in the US

9) The Church will reach out amongst the poor.   It seems to me that it is often the case that the richer and more middle class the church, the more they talk about helping the poor.  However the real need is not the kind of patronising charity that this often precedes, but rather the planting of real gospel churches amongst the poor..because the Gospel frees, empowers and does not patronise.  That is why the work of Twenty Schemes is so vital.   My own convictions on this have grown stronger over the past few months and I am delighted that St Peters will be starting a new church plant in the Charleston housing estate in Dundee.

 10) Africa and Asia will be seen more and more as the key areas of evangelicalism in the world.  Sometimes we still think that Europe and the US are the centres of the church.  My own view is that unless there is a real renewal and revival of the church in the West, the 21st Century will be the century of the Asian and African churches.  I am so encouraged by my Asian and African brothers and sisters and very much look forward to working with and learning more from them. I hope that they will learn from our mistakes and not make the same ones.

Our God is a God of surprises….may we see his surprising grace at work in our midst.  May his kingdom come….

Thanks for this comment from Church Growth Modelling

 

 

 

 


42 thoughts on “Ten Prophecies re the Church in 2017

  1. Excellent post David. There’s no doubt in my mind that evangelicals are now beginning to cave in to the spirit of the age. I agree with your statement: “they make open questions of issues which Scripture clearly speaks about”. A recent paper circulating in the Baptist Union of GB on same sex relationships does exactly this by, “playing the ‘humble and enquiring’ card when in reality they are undermining”. I fear that where this organisation goes others will follow.

    We should be praying for unity amongst Scotland’s real born again believers and an appetite amongst all to stand for Christ and contend for the faith.

  2. I note your point 10 about Africa and Asia becoming key areas of evangelism in the world, but this talk by Conrad Mbewe at the “Strange Fire” conference concerning the rapid rise of the prosperity gospel in Africa is rather worrying. It would appear that in many of the churches there is much noise, excitement and “deliverance” but precious little bible.

    https://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/TM13-5/the-african-import-of-charismatic-chaos?Term=conrad mbewe

  3. 1. Yes, but so what. They do little for true Christianity.
    2. Stay firm in the faith as once given us by the saints, even if no-one turns up – should be the watchword for a faithful preacher.
    3. Americanism? Doubt this one, they’ve tried to get a foothold in here but apathy and dislike of showiness has prevented it.
    4. See above.
    5. Yes. It’s already beginning to happen.
    6. I would never have dreamt of standing for council or government 5 years ago, yet now I have two parliamentary elections, and one council election under my belt. So, absolutely, yes.
    7. The true church will celebrate the Reformation, the rest will try and steal the show by claiming its all over, and no longer matters….
    8. Yes. Mike Pence might be an interesting figure to watch.
    9. I have laboured amongst the rich for 16 years, only the (comparative) poor come to our church, Jesus was right about camels and needle eyes (you have to liquidise a camel to get it through the eye of a needle).
    10. They are already beginning to assert themselves – though are riven by prosperity gospel issues, or by ‘missionaries’ teaching similarly flawed gospels.

  4. The reading of passages from the Koran at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral marks a new low. Aimed at “promoting understanding between the two faiths” in fact the Muslim guest read – in a supposedly Christian “church” – .
    from Surah 19 entitled “Maryam” which says, inter alia:

    “It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He!”

    and

    “On the [Last] Day We will gather the righteous to the Most Merciful as a delegation.
    And will drive the criminals to Hell in thirst.
    None will have [power of] intercession except he who had taken from the Most Merciful a covenant.
    And they say, “The Most Merciful has taken [for Himself] a son.”
    You have done an atrocious thing.
    The heavens almost rupture therefrom and the earth splits open and the mountains collapse in devastation.
    That they attribute to the Most Merciful a son.
    And it is not appropriate for the Most Merciful that He should take a son.
    There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant.”

    In this Surah, Islam teaches that God does not have a Son and in doing so denies the divinity of Christ and goes directly against the core teaching of biblical Christianity.

    It is an absolute disgrace (but sadly typical) that when “the Very Reverend” Kelvin Holdsworth was asked if he knew what the Koran teaches about Jesus, “Mr Holdsworth declined to comment further” (BBC).

    1. The only positive in the reading from the Kor’an is that it nails the lie that we all worship the same God. As I think I have written previously the similarities between Islam and Christianity are unimportant. It is no accident that the divergences – the divinity of Christ and His death and resurrection go th the very heart of Christianity.

    2. This Surah does not teach that God does not have a Son. It teaches that God ‘does not take a son’. This is surely true. Christians believe the Trinity is eternal, that the Son of God has existed for eternity, and that, like Muslims that God is one. The Qu’ran was written against the background of dozens of Christian sects taking differing views of Christology. Adoptionism by which Jesus ‘becomes’ the Son of God was a heterodox christology in the seventh century and remains a heterodox christology in the twenty first.
      Be that as it may, there is no doubt about the orthodox christology of Kelvin and the other clergy at St Mary’s. Muslim visitors were under no illusion here. One can listen to a passage read, or sung, from the Qu’ran without giving it one’s amen.
      St Mary’s probably does more to foster cordial relationships between Christians and Muslims in Glasgow. This is through social events, visits to one anothers places of worship and through workshops and lectures. One would think that in these times of religious conflict anything that encourages mutual respect would be welcomed.

      1. Alex – the Surah does teach, in accordance with the rest of Islamic theology that God does not have a Son and that is blasphemy to do so. Your response is disingenuos and dishonest. As is the claim of St Mary’s to be a Christian church, and Holdsworth’s refusal to answer the BBC’s questions. A Christian church is a place for Christian worship. This took place in an act of Christian worship – where a reading was read which denied the basic fundamental of Christian teaching – that Jesus is God. My Muslim friends do not think this creates mutual respect – they think it is a pathetic denigration of Christianity and affirmation of Islam. Of course you will justify as you wish – just as you justify and join in with the blasphemies and mockery of your new found friends on Secular Scotland. I pray that God would have mercy on you….but please don’t insult our intelligence by pretending that this horrendous event was anything other than anti-Christian mockery….

      2. Mr Staton, why are you lying about Islam’s stance on Jesus Christ as the Son of God? Whose agenda are you serving? Do you think you can kid us on that “we all worship the same deity” nonsense?

        How about this, explain Surah al-Tawbah 9:30. It states that “The Jews say, “Ezra is the son of Allah”; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah .” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?

        Can you read? The Koran states that Christians (and Jews) should be destroyed. And the Christians should be destroyed because they say that the Messiah i.e. Jesus, is the son of God (I will set aside for one moment the fact that the moon god “Allah” isn’t the God of the Jews and Christians and the obvious error and falsehood that “the Jews” supposedly say that Ezra is the son of “Allah”).

        Can you tell me how Surah 9 promotes “cordial relationships between Christians and Muslims in Glasgow”.

        Just askin’….

      3. Can I just add regarding Staton’s comment that “The Qu’ran was written against the background of dozens of Christian sects taking differing views of Christology.” In fact, there is widespread acceptance that Muhammed’s contact and knowledge of Christianity was only with heretical gnostics and not orthodox Christianity. That is why the Quran laughably depicts the Christian doctrine of the trinity to be a trinity of Father, Mary, and Jesus (Surah 5:116). Why was this? Because there was in Arabia in the fourth century a sect of fanatical women called Collyridians, who rendered divine worship to Mary! If the Quran was really written by God, as Muhammad claimed, then Mary would never have been connected with the trinity. Muslim apologists cannot explain away this problem because numerous Muslims commentators indeed subscribe to the view that Mary is part of the Christian trinity. Suggesting this is not the case is an Orwellian attempt to rewrite Islamic theology. It is quite obvious that Muhammad’s version of the Quran and his beliefs were based upon the local environment to which he was exposed. That is why it is so full of errors. It is no wonder that the famous scholar W. M. Watt noted that:

        “One of the remarkable features of the relationship between Muslims and Christians is that neither Muhammad nor any of the Companions seems to have been aware of some of the fundamental Christian doctrines. Apart from the reference to the crucifixion (which is primarily a denial of Jewish claim), and the mention of the twelve apostles as the ‘helpers’ of Jesus, and of the miracles of healing and raising the dead, there is nothing in the Qur’an about the adult life and teaching of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament. The early Muslims gave Jesus the title Messiah (Masih) but did not appreciate that it involved a claim to be ‘God’s anointed’. They did not understand the distinctive work of Jesus in redeeming the world and atoning for its sins. They did not realize that the Holy Spirit was regarded by Christians as the third person in the Godhead. It is indeed remarkable that there should have been among the Muslims over such a wide area this absence of knowledge of Christianity.”

  5. Referring to your numbered points.

    1 Without specific preaching/teaching on our Triune God, there is general ignorance in the church, notwithstanding, any recitation of creeds, resulting in the belief that Islam (and belief in any other god(s) and Christianity are all the same.

    And comparative religion can be taught without any belief at all.

    More pertinently, it appears that even simple power-point comparative religion is not is not taught in training of some ministers, some church leaders. And at such a simple, nutshell, level the uniqueness of our triune God, stands out.

    On the other hand there are high brow, intelligentsia, theologians, obscurantist, that, through now discredited Higher Criticism and subsequent offshoots have baffled those seek to join their ranks. It is epitomised in this fictional. repeat. fictional encounter with one of their ranks:
    And Jesus said unto them. “And who do you say I am.” They replied, “You are the eschatological of the ground of our being, the ontological foundation of the context of our very selfhood revealed.”
    And Jesus replied, “What?”

    5 &7 There continues to be a divide between cessationists and non cessationist, and style of worship between bible believing Christians, and between Arminianism and Calvinism.
    The Reformation, while I accept the theology of Solas, seems to have been a launch-pad and subsequent justification for schisms and individualism within Protestantism. It has lost a unity which, on the surface, there is in Catholicism.

    Our unity is in Christ and Spirit.

    6 Throughout my adult Christian life in the workplace, it has been evident that there is a reality gap between church leaders, preachers and teachers and those not in “full time ministry” and consequently no “how to” teaching on being a Christian in today’s workplace, which is different now, even compared to 5 years ago. Is it just to do a good job, or is there more to it? Christ -likeness, perhaps and how that manifests?

    8 So far I’ve been unable to open the Horton link, but it often takes an outsider an Englishman in this case) to see things clearly. Would that we had the ability to see ourselves as others see us. We do have some ability to see ourselves as God sees us, which is where the Good News of Christ comes in. Our vested interest is in our union with Christ not in the contingencies of people or politics.

  6. David, the reference to SS is unfair – particularly as I frequently find myself out on a limb trying to defend religious people in general and Christians in particular against some unsavoury attacks. I’ve never done anything other than make my Christian faith, which remains pretty orthodox, anything other than explicit. Perhaps it’s arguable how well I succeed in that. Still, I think there are those that wish to broaden SS’s outlook and stress that secularism is not the same as atheism.
    Be that as it may, I remain convinced that reading the Qu’ran at the Epiphany service did no harm and may have done some good. My own encounters with interfaith groups in Glasgow do not suggest that the Muslims involved see these kinds of things as capitulation. As I mentioned, noone is under any illusion what Christians believe concerning the divinity of Jesus, something made quite explicit when the Creed is recited at each and every service at St Mary’s. Personally, I have no objection to merely listening to something I don’t actually endorse wherever it happens to be, including in a worship service. I think the whole business has got hopelessly out of hand. And whether you agree with him or not, Kelvin’s intentions were completely honourable. To suggest there was any intention of mocking Christian faith is completely unfounded.
    My point about the context of that particular sura has been made frequently by others. Truth told, we don’t really know what the context was other than that the Christianity of the seventh century was divided and compromised. Why else would the Qu’ran’s comments on Christians be so ambivalent? We don’t know whether these verses were reacting against a particular christology or not. That some (most) Islamic scholars take these verses as a blanket rejection of trinitarian christology does not imply this is a correct interpretation any more than the fact much of the church in the West formerly understood Genesis One to teach the earth is 6,000 years old is a correct interpretation of that chapter. At the very least I think it’s not unreasonable to recognise the possibilith for a degree of agnosticism, as some Christian and Muslim scholars have argued.
    The relationship between Christianity and Islam has been fraught. However I do think that it’s sometimes been expressed in too simplistic terms. Miroslav Volk, for example, argues (convincingly in my view) that a good deal of the conflict arises from misrepresentation of the trinity both by Muslims and Christians.
    Im sorry you think my response is insulting your intelligence. It happens to be what I think. Equally, I’d be loathe to so quickly denounce those churches you do not consider to be truly “christian”. No doubt you’ll recall the FP split and John Tallach’s booklet arguing Christian worship takes place where the name and blessing of the Triune God is invoked. As a weekly regular at St Mary’s, I can assure you this is the case at every single service. I freely admit that there are times when I think to myself I wouldn’y have handled that text in that way or when I funndamentally disagree with some application or other. But I have not doubted that we are there to worship the risen Christ, the eternal Son of God.

    1. The reference to SS is fair. Yes sometimes you defend religious belief but far too often you join in the mockery and abuse of those who hold a biblical position.

      Kelvin was either foolish or wicked. If he did not know that the reading would include the verses about Christ not being the Son of God then he was suckered by the woman who did the reading. If he did then it was just plain evil. To have verses which attack the central Christian belief done as part of a Christian worship service is pathetic and wicked. And now he plays the victim card!

      You know as well as I do that this was an anti-Christian act which brings dishonour and disgrace upon Christ….there is no excuse for it..

  7. I predict that in the West the church will increasingly become not only a declining species but a hunted one. The truer it is to Scripture the more unwelcome it will be. Of course, this has always been the case, however, the fault lines are getting bigger and more apparent. We are not viewed as an endangered species but a dangerous one.

  8. Ian, Im not sure that your tone is entirely necessary. I can read and Im not lying.
    Regarding the expression, “son of God”. This occurs in the OT as well as the NT. In the OT it’s used figuratively of kings but is understood in Judaism to refer just to human beings in genersl. It is not a specifically divine or mesdianic title (although some verses where it’s used can read messianically with retrospect). I agree that when applied to Jesus in the NT, it is indeed a divine title. Despite this, the implications of this weren’t fully understood by the church until Nicea. Even then, a range of views were maintained until Mohammed and beyond. I’m saying only that the verses in question need to be read in their historical context, something we have relatively little real access to.
    In confused by your second post because you point out the Qu’ran is not reacting against orthodox christianity. This is precisely my point. Indeed nearly every Muslim I have spoken to has a distorted view of the Trinity. So do many Christians.
    Regarding your comment about killing christians, the same verse (sura 9:5) tells Muslims to provide safety to those that request it. In practice this is often happened at the time thanks to the Mohammedan Covenants. It’s also worth noting that 7th century Arabia was a violent and dominated by inter-tribal fighting. At least some of this infighting may have expressed itself in sectarian terms as happened in Northern Ireland. Ultimately these troubles were not about religion: they were about land. It’s just that the opposing sides happened to come from different religious traditions.
    Ultimately the issue isn’t about how Muslims and Chtistians differ on christology and the trinity. Noone, including me, has denied that they do. More thwn anything else, belief in the eternal Sonship of Christ defines orthodox christian doctrine. The issue is entirely about whether the reading should have been given. The reason for a reading honouring Mary is obvious. It seems to me that simply reading out something that denies Jesus’ divinity is of little consequence. Ministers often quote from heterodox sources when preaching in order to critique them. By inviting Muslims to read out this chapter during the service gives us their view from the horses mouth as it were. Later in in the service the congregation recited the Creed affirming that Jesus is eternally begotten and further that he was crucified and died (which Muslims also deny) and rose from the dead on the third day. No doubt the Muslims present would not be able to recite these words as an expression of their own belief.
    I have to say I agree with many of the other points in the blog.

    1. In your post you stated that “This Surah does not teach that God does not have a Son” when in fact that is exactly what it teaches. Ergo, you are lying. That some Koranic passage does not utilise exact christological terminology and instead states that God ‘does not take a son’ is irrelevant. Ask ANY Muslim whether God has a Son. In fact, better still, why not travel to Israel and visit the Christian holy sites. Whenever a mosque is anywhere near these sites (such as at the entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchure) or in Nazareth, you will see that The Religion of Peace and Tolerance (trademark) has helpfully placed big signs outside in English telling all the Christian pilgrims not to worship Jesus Christ. The verses in question from the Koran do not “need to be read in their historical context”. Muslims believe that what the Koran states is what goes. And what the Koran states is that Jesus was not the Son of God.

      Your treatment of Sura 9:5 is dishonest and I truly wonder what your agenda is. Sura 9:5 starts with the infamous “9:5 Kill the disbelievers wherever you find them”. The Sura does not tell Muslims to provide safety to those that request it unconditionally. Rather it is for the specific reason so as to try to convert non-Muslims. The context of the Sura was that Muhammed called for a three-month truce. He used this period to encourage his opponents to become Muslims or leave the area that was under Muslims rule. Those who refused to do either were to be killed. I have no idea what you mean by “the Mohammedan Covenants” and Muslims would find the term Mohammedan offensive. Given the context, I think you mean what the position of non-Muslims is under Islamic rule. Throughout Islamic history, the conquered peoples by advancing Muslim armies were given the choice of either converting, being killed, or living as a conquered people, a dhimmi. The legal definition of the dhimmi was that non-Muslims must pay various taxes and tolls, that they must live a second class life and give deference to their Muslim neighbours. Rules were formulated to deny the dhimmi due process of the law. Discriminatory and restrictive dress and behaviour codes were enacted and severely enforced. Many times distinctive dress was specified to identify a dhimmi that he would be unable to either mix with a Muslim or even walk in a Muslim area of a city. Other rules specified such demeaning dress codes as not wearing shoes or sandals, not using certain colours, wearing stars on their clothing (where have we seen that one?). Dhimmis were often prohibited from working in many occupations. Even rules were made as to how a dhimmi could ride a mule to distinguish him from a Muslim.

      Your comment that “Ultimately these troubles were not about religion: they were about land. It’s just that the opposing sides happened to come from different religious traditions” shows that in fact, you know nothing about Islam. Islam divides the world into two separate areas. One is the dar al harab, the territory of war, and the other is the dar al Islam, the territory of Islam, which is the Muslim lands where Islamic law reigns.

      Ultimately the issue is totally about how Muslims and Christians differ on christology and the trinity.There is no dispute from real Christians that specifically anti-Christian verses from the Koran should not be read within so-called Christian churches. Your comment that “reading out something that denies Jesus’ divinity is of little consequence” is shameful and I’m sure that your tone is entirely unnecessary. I will pray that God forgives you.

      1. Ian I find it strange that you consistently accuse someone you disagree with of lying for giving their opinion. In my world, we suggest people might be mistaken. Either way I am not lying. You say that particular sura clearly denies the trinity; I’m saying it’s not as simpky as that. That’s simply a difference of understanding or opinion.

        The qu’ran is polemic at many points. For example, it also denies that God has a mother. According the Ibn Ishaq (d. 767 CE) there were Christians at the time that believed precisely that and that Christ is the physical son of God. There were also pagans that believed God has a daughter. The qu’ran reflects these views in 72:3 and 6:101 as well as in sura 19. Perhaps these verses reflect a misunderstanding on the part of Mohammad; who knows? Subsequent dialogue between Christians and Muslims has certainly been marked by misunderstanding of the Christian doctrine of the trinity both by Muslims and Christians. It seems deliberately obtuse to completely ignore this background in reading the qu’ran. Of course I fully accept modern day Muslims reject the divinity of Christ (as does Kelvin) although time and time again my discussions with Muslims on this subject indicate that many Muslims misunderstand the Christian doctrine (they take it to imply polytheism) and that this view is so entrenched it’s almost impossible to shift.
        The Mohammedan Covenants are a fact of history. Indeed Muslim – Christian relations tended to be more fraternal than is the case nowadays throughout much of history. This is in spite of the Christian Crusades. More recently, relations have been dominated by political conflict. You can disagree with my assessment if you wish. It’s quite something else calling me a liar for making my point.

        I hope I hardly need to remind you that for every verse in the qu’ran advocating violence, there is one in the Bible also advocating violence. This includes death for blasphemers. Ostensibly christian nations have a long history of carrying out such penalties. However, just as modern day Christians argue these sanctions are inconsistent with the proper implementation of justice, Muslim scholars argue the same in respect of the barbarism of IS and even Saudi Arabia. I recently attended a lecture given by Sheikh Sayed Ali Abass Razawi where he argue that *no* constitutionally Islamic regime practices sharia as taught by the qu’ran; that violence and coercion has no place in Islamic jurisprudence. Incidentally, my argument regarding the background of the qu’ran’s position on the trinity is shared by Miroslav Volf of Yale University (“one of the most celebrated theologians of our day”). It is also the position argued by Anthony Allison of Glasgow University. He’s an expert in Islamic and Arabic Studies having studied at the University of Damascus when it was one of the leading universities in the Middle East. You may consider all these men mistaken. Please do not accuse them of lying.

        The section of Sura 19 chanted (it was chanted rather than simply read) at St Mary’s specifically excluded the more polemic verses at the end. The idea was to share only those verses concentrating on Mary and the birth of Jesus. These verses contain nothing an orthodox christian would be expected to disagree with.

        The problem with all this is that most of the comment is ill informed. Fundamentally, St Mary’s is a trinitarian congregation. If you refuse to acknowledge that there is very little more I can say. However, I’d add this. My own, and the congregation’s commitment to orthodox Christian doctrine, is rigorous enough that I’m quite capable of hearing an alternative perspective without compromising or capitulating. And it goes without saying the Almighty doesnt need to be told what is and is not correct theology.

  9. AS

    A couple of points flowing from your on your last comment and then some other points that others have posted on another blog which highlight explanations given by the Provost ‘

    You said:

    1 “It seems to me that simply reading out something that denies Jesus’ divinity is of little consequence”.

    Flabbergasting really, from someone who professes orthodox Christian faith as Ian Taylor points out in different words.

    2 “Later in in the service the congregation recited the Creed affirming that Jesus is eternally begotten and further that he was crucified and died (which Muslims also deny) and rose from the dead on the third day. ”

    Do you know what the congregation actual believe? At the lowest level the Christian leaders are not protecting their flock from error and are sowing doubt and confusion.

    Do you think that the Muslim community would reciprocate by permitting scriptural reading on the divinity death and resurrection of Jesus, His Sonship and Fatherhood of God in a Mosque bearing in mind.
    a) Say not trinity, Desist; it will be far better for you: for God is one God. Glory be to Him:(far exalted is He) above having a son. (Surah 4.171. )
    and
    b) Say: He, Allah, is One
    Allah is He on Whom all depend’
    He begets not, nor is He begotten (ie He is not Father. nor Son)
    And none is like Him (Surah 112)

    Below are comments posted on:
    https://alastairadversaria.com/2017/01/14/links-post-14012017/#comments
    which are self explanatory and include Holdsworth’s very revealing explanation:

    quinnjones2 says:
    January 14, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Alastair,
    I have a few thoughts about your link to Peter Ould’s article (on Ian Paul’s blog page) about the Qu’ran passage denying the deity of Christ recited at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow.
    I think that the following statement by Peter Ould is spot on:
    ‘…this is an issue that goes way beyond inter-faith hospitality, respect or education. It’s one thing to share an example of Muslim scriptures in a non divine service context, It’s another to specifically incorporate them into Anglican liturgy. What we pray is what we believe after all.’ When I read elsewhere that Kevin Holdsworth, the Provost of St. Mary’s Cathedral, had lodged a complaint with the police about hate-mail he had received following the publicity about the inclusion of this Qu’ran reading at the service, I decided to read the Provost’s article in response to criticisms he had received. I expected this article to include some details about the criticisms and the Provost’s responses to these criticisms and it did indeed answer some of the questions I had in my mind, but it also left me with some unanswered questions.
    Kevin Holdsworth explained the background to this inter-faith service and I appreciated his words, ‘One of the features of local life in Glasgow in recent years is growing friendship amongst people of different faiths’, words which were followed by a number of instances of how these friendships have grown. He then explained that he contacted the police because he and the Vice Provost received ‘…Islamophobic and other hate filled messages…’ He also wrote this:
    ‘The same Qu’ranic reading has been given before in services and no outcry has happened. Is it because this is a Cathedral run by a gay man? Is it because the recitation was given by a woman? Clearly those things are a factor as they feature in some of the abuse.’ I agree with the Provost that the mail he described is totally unacceptable.
    However I do find it disconcerting that the Qu’ran reading, described by the Provost as a ‘recitation’, seemed to be included as an integral part of the service. On this point I endorse the statement made by Peter Ould, which I quoted above.
    What intrigued me was not only the fact that the Provost’s comments on the ‘hate mail’ and the ‘recitation’ were not mentioned until later in his article, but also the fact that this statement came near the beginning: ‘If there was any controversy on the evening it was over the tune I’d picked for Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning, which may have taken some people by surprise.’ We sang that wonderful hymn at our 9.00 a.m. service on 8th January and I played (on the digital piano) the tune ‘Epiphany Hymn’ by Joseph Thrupp, because that is the tune most of our congregants know best. I wondered which tune the Provost had chosen, but I did not need to wonder for long – he chose ‘the correct one’! Here is the closing paragraph of his article:
    ‘And to have the last word about the service itself, the tune we used for Brightest and Best was the correct one. No arguments.’ I had no idea that there was a ‘correct’ tune for Brightest and Best – different churches choose different tunes, and I believe that there are at least six different tunes. Was Kevin Holdsworth’s final comment a tongue-in-cheek comment? Why did he choose to make the choice of tune the ‘Alpha and Omega’ of his article? Can we hope that he might become equally emphatic about using correct Anglican liturgy in future? I don’t know!
    Christine
    Reply

    Alastair Roberts says:
    January 14, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    He seems to be engaged in furious attempts to deflect attention from the actual issue.
    Reply
    quinnjones2 says:
    January 14, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Yes, he does. Unfortunately this also seems to be true of some of the authors of the ‘hate-mail’ he received.

    1. Geoff, I know precisely what the congregation believes. I’m there most Sundays. I confess I missed the Epiphany service because I was away. However I listened to a recording of both the recitation and the sermon. I’ve also spoken directly with many people that *were* there, including Kelvin and the other clergy. So unlike most commentators, my version of events is not from the Daily Mail.

      For the umpteenth time the congregation is consistently trinitarian in line with the catholic creeds. The divine Christ, coeternal with the Father, is worshipped and proclaimed at every single service. Because I and many others in the congregation are robust in our faith, I dont object to hearing something that takes another position. Actually the rwading stopped short of the more polemical section of that sura. Add the that the fact it was read in Arabic, it’s unlikely to significantly challenge the faith of many.

      Frankly the furore is getting a little tiresome. It’s about time it started to die down so we can get on with the business of witnessung to the power and love of God our Saviour rather than fighting amongst ourselves.

      1. Difficult to see how allowing a blasphemous reading from the Koran attacking Christ is ‘witnessing to the power and love of God our Saviour’. Also a bit rich to call for unity from a church whose leader has called for any church which supports the biblical view on marriage should be punished by the State!

      2. You complain about being called out for lying, but then put forward an interpretation of the Surah that denies that God has a Son that is at variance with any and all Islamic teaching. Odd. What would you call deliberately and consistently advancing a false argument? If it looks like a duck….etc

        You imply that because the anti-Christian verses were read out in Arabic in a service in a (self-proclaimed) Christian church then that’s OK! Do you read what you write before sending?

        You claim that the bunch of people who meet in the building every Sunday are orthodox yet the person who leads this group explicitly rejects biblical teaching on marriage and you yourself is known for sneering at Bible-believing Christians. It gets stranger and stranger.

        Incidentally, it is very telling that the welcoming message on your groupiscule’s webpage doesn’t even mention Jesus Christ, only that you are “inclusive” and “progressive”.

        Finally, isn’t it strange how an Episcopalian appeals to the state authorities in Scotland to hunt and chase down all those who oppose him? Where have we seen that before in the history of this country?

      3. There you go again (“mistaken”/lying). In fact the reading included the “more polemical” bit (a real Christian would have said “false, blasphemous and wicked”). Even your “Very Reverend” (lol) has admitted this, but professes ignorance as to why she did it. The reader deliberately went beyond what was published in the handout during the service to include a specifically anti-Christian message. This is well-known. What actually is your game here?

      4. Alex, it is great that you don’t object to hearing things you disagree with. Your priest, as you know, is different- on his blog he only publishes stuff from folk who agrees with him and elsewhere calls anything that he disagrees with “hate speech” – and calls the cops.

        Christian apologetics at its best….

  10. David, perhaps someone could tell me precisely where sura 19:1 – 28 is blasphemous. It very much agrees with the sense of the gospel account.

    Kelvin can speak for himself on charitable status for churches. I tend not to agree with him as I’ve said before. There may be folk in your own congregation that dont agree with you on any number of things. At least I hope there are…..

    1. Why disingeniously restrict Sura 19 to 1-28? You know and I know that your Muslim guest read beyond that and included ayah 35 which blasphemously states that “It is not befitting to Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him!”

      Admittedly, she did not get to ayahs 88-91:

      88. “And they [the Christians] say, “The Most Merciful has begotten a son.”
      89. You have come up with something monstrous.
      90. At which the heavens almost rupture, and the earth splits, and the mountains fall and crumble.
      91. Because they attribute a son to the Most Merciful.”

      But hey, as you say, she read in Arabic so who really cares, right?

  11. Alex,

    Your defence of the indefensible is not just tiresome it deserves Church discipline, which has seemingly been forthcoming in some quarters , but ignored by Holdsworth.

    http://www.christiantoday.com/article/why.the.cathedral.quran.reading.deserved.its.rebuke/103902.htm

    Take particular note of the interpretation of the Quranic reading and that what was said beyond it.

    Your silence on the points I made on reciprocity , blows a hole in your balsa wood boat.

    And as for getting on with witnessing to the love of our Saviour – there is no Saviour love without the cross of Christ and His resurrection through the Spirit. There is no love for neighbour by subscribing or condoning or promoting error.

    And for all the many names of Allah, love isn’t one of them. That he is, I believe, is incomprehensible in Islam.

    That God is love only comes from scripture, and is only possible when it flows from the pre -creation love within the Trinity (John17)

    By the way, I’m not sure how you can know what all the congregants truly believe, from what they recite.

  12. Hi David Robertson, I enjoy your writing very much. I wish you had the desire to search and look into the Catholic faith which began 33 AD. The protestant faith came about much later and they took 7 books out of our bible. There are so many traditions and Sacraments obeyed by Catholics that are in your bible I’m sure, the ‘take and eat for this is my body’ and ‘go forth and teach’ giving authority to apostles to be priests, Peter was the first Pope ‘Peter you are rock and on this rock I will build my church’ and ‘whatever you forgive on earth will be forgiven in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall remain loose in heaven. I don’t know the exact places in the bible where these are but I assure you at each and every Holy sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday or Daily Mass, we read from the old testament (twice on weekends) and once from the Gospels. There are reasons why the Catholic faith follows these strict traditions and it is because this is what Jesus commands so yeah. 🙂 I hope you want to learn more. God bless you and the work you do! thank you for letting me write this to you. Very Best Regards,

    1. Hi Diane….great to hear from you….I do belong to the Catholic faith – the one which began with the promise in Genesis 3:15! I don’t belong to the Roman Catholic church but I do belong to the one holy catholic church!

  13. Geoff/Ian, this will be my last comment on “qurangate”. In all honesty, Im fare more dismayed by the dismal example of christian dialogue on this thread than I am by anything surrounding the reading of the Quran during and interfaith service.

    Ian and now Colin (and David) appear unable to get beyond the accusation that they consider my taking a position (shared by others) on that section of the Quran as “lies. No, it’s a simply a different position. You can consider Im talking rubbish (that’s fine) but to accuse someone of lying is to imply they set out to knowing deceive. This is a serious accusation that is quite inconsistent with Christian faith. But then so is bearing false witness by making unfounded accusations. Since I’ve no intention of pursuing it, this matter is between you God. Please do not repeat the accusation.

    The fact I haven’t addressed every single point implies nothing. I have focussed on what I consider to be the main issues. Afterall I have other things to do.

    Some evangelicals appear obsessed with ‘discipline’. Very often they’re the ones living in glass houses. There will be no church discipline either for me or Kelvin. In Kelvin’s case, the bishop has given his support notwithstanding the more ambivalent comment from David Illingworth. Interestingly, the current archbishop of Canterbury intimated that he believes Christians and Muslims worship the same God when he was Dean at Liverpool Cathedral. It would therefore be difficult to demand formal church discipline. In any case neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the Bishop of Birmingham have any jurisdiction in the SEC.
    Regarding going to the police, I’m led to understand that several of the comments received went well beyond even the most robust of responses. I gather they were pretty foul and mainly unrepeatable. That said, I have reservations about current legislation on hate speech although if the comments are threatening they should be investigated. I hope you agree that it is unacceptable for those claiming to be christian to make these kinds of comments. As Im not Kelvin’s keeper, I leave it to him to respond as he sees fit.

    It’s not for me to *know* whether individuals in the congregation mean the words of the Nicene Creed. However when we affirm it we do so before the congregation and God. I can certainly tell you that the worship, prayer life and biblical teaching in the congregation is orthodox and trinitarian. That’s one of the reasons I go. Again, you may wish to imply Im lying (as David has done in previous exchanges); that is up to you. My own conscience is clear. As God alone is Lord of the conscience, I’m content to leave it at that. Christian grace and love requires you to do the same.

    It’s disappointing that discussion atound so important an issue has focused mainly on ad hominem attacks of Kelvin oand myself. I’ll say it again. Anyone reading this thread will getva pretty dismal impression of christians.

    1. Alex – get over yourself….its not about you or even Kelvin. Its about a so-called Christian church having a reading in public worship which denies Christ. The fact that you are more upset about the language on this thread, rather than the event itself, speaks volumes. And of course there won’t be church discipline – that horse has long since bolted in the Anglican church!

  14. Two last, last things. First, it’s precisely not about me. Yet you insist on calling me a liar for adopting a position you disagree with. You’ve done this many times before. Im happy to concede the possibility Im talking through a hole in my head. Youre perfectly at liberty to say that with whatever supporting argument you think appropriate.
    The other thing is that it’s just a fact of life that Christians disagree about things, sometimes profoundly. But you seem to take the view that unless Christians broadly agree with you, they can’t be Christians. It’s strange you frequently praise the RC Church yet deny that a person that may differ with you on interfaith or sexuality yet is ultimately comvinced salvation is by grace alone is a quisling; someone that has bowed the knee the Baal, etc (your language). The only reason Im more dismayed by the language on this thread that the issue of a reading from the Quran is I think the latter is a non-issue. You’re at liberty to disagree. Either way do you really think crying “liar” at every opportunity (along with all the other abuse) really serves the Gospel well? I can well imagine Secular Scotland gloating with considerable self satisfaction.

    1. Who called you a liar?! I don’t call liar at every opportunity.

      My view is not that unless people agree with me they cannot be Christians….not my position at all. My position is that there is a certain minimalist position needed in order to be a Christian – like say belief in Christ and following what Christ says. I realise that there are many confused and backslidden Christians – but I am in no position to judge them. My role is to say what a Christian is….someone who allows a reading from the Koran in a service of Christian worship – especially when that reading denies the divinity of Christ – is to put it mildly in disobedience and confusion….as for being a Christian? You shall know them by their fruits…

  15. David, my apologies. On this occasion it wasn’t you that called me a liar (although you have told me Im a liar in the past); it was Ian. Perhaps I’m talking rubbish but that’s not lying.

    Of course I agree that there is a minimum set of beliefs that defines a Christian. To my mind these are summarised in the catholic creeds. Fundamentally, Christians worship and serve Christ, the eternal Son of God made man and risen from the dead in glory. We look to God alone for salvation, the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life. Pretty well every beside that is open to debate. This includes things as broad as creation and fall, the atonement (‘we are saved by the atonement notba theory of atonement’), interfaith, inerrancy and aspects of Christian obedience and ethics. I take it you agree with me on this?

    The divinity of Christ lies at the heart of Christian belief. However the debate is not about the divinity of Christ because Christ’s divinity was proclaimed in that service as it is every single week. The debate is about the wisdom and propriety of allowing a section of the Qur’an that may deny the divinity of Christ to be read during the service and nothing more. An English translation of the verses intended to be read, which do not address Christ’s divinity, was provided in the service sheet. It’s as straight forward as that

    1. Imagine at a political rally someone says – all people are equal…and at that same rally someone else says ‘black people are inferior’. The defence of the rally is that ‘the first slogan was said’. What would you say?

  16. I really have no idea what you’re on about. There has never been any doubt in the preaching at St Mary’s about the orthodox Christian position of the divinity of Christ. It is affirmed week in and week out, including on previous occasions when Muslims have been present by invitation. To be honest, I don’t understand why you’re making mischief out of this.

    1. Sadly Alex, I believe you. You have no idea what I’m on about. Let me try this….can you imagine Jesus encouraging Baal worship in the temple in Jerusalem, in order to foster mutual understanding and community harmony?

      1. This is exactly the point. Noone is encouraging Baal worship. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “you worship what you do not know”. There is a reasonable theological argument that Christians and Muslims (and Jews) worship the same God, albeit with different degrees of kbowledge. You can agree with that argument or not but it’s really not on to imply that a service of Christian worship that happened to include a reading from the Quran was therefore tantamount to worship of ‘Baal’. I’d go so far as to say the assertion is quite wicked. But then you refuse to acknowledge me as a brother in Christ, despite my faults, having accused me of bowing the knee to Baal and of being Judas. I guess it’s difficult for you to see beyond that.

      2. Alex, I’m sorry that you don’t get it….You think not only that its ok to have a service of Christian worship in which a reading is from the Koran which denies that Christ is God, but you think its wicked to critique that! I despair….

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